• Attention. Students learn that what they focus on is a choice. Through focusing attention on a variety of external sensations (the sound of a bell, the look of a stone) and internal sensations (feeling happy or sad), children learn they can direct their attention and maintain focus.
  • Breath and Body. Students learn to use their breath to cultivate some peace and quiet. Instead of listening to a meditation, we played a song from Betsy Rose’s CD, “Breathing In, Breathing Out,” while the children rested on their backs with a beanie baby on their belly. The beanie provided an object to “rock to sleep” with the natural in- and out-breath, while the breathing calmed the body.
  • Caring. Here, we teach kids to think about how others are feeling and cultivate kindness. We read the book Sumi’s first day of school ever, the story of a foreign student who struggles with English, and brainstorm ways to help a student like Sumi—as simple as offering a smile.
  • Depending on other people. We emphasize that everyone supports and is supported by others through the book Somewhere today, which describes acts of kindness that are going on in the world right now. Students learn to see themselves as helpers and begin to develop gratitude for the kindness of others.
  • Emotions. What do emotions feel like and look like? How can you tell what you’re feeling? We play a game where the teacher and students take turns pretending to be angry, sad, happy, or surprised, guessing which emotion was expressed, and talking about what that emotion feels like in the body.
  • Forgiveness. Young kids can be particularly hard on themselves—and others—and we teach them that everyone makes mistakes. A book called Down the road tells the story of a girl who breaks the eggs she bought for her parents, but they forgive her.
  • Gratitude. We want kids to recognize the kind acts that other people do for them, so we have them pretend to be various community workers like bus drivers and firefighters. Then, they talk about being thankful to those people for how they help us.

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